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The Last Runaway Oh goodreads Why does thee not allow for a half star rating? If thy did I would give this book a solid 25 star rating For the cover art I would give thy a 5 star rating But I digress Tracy Chevalier's latest book examines the uakers' role in the Underground Railroad during the mid 1800s We see this time period through the eyes of one Honor Bright a recent emigrate from England Honor is a twenty year old who like most twenty somethings finds it is one thing to profess moral ideals and uite another to live by them Issues that vex Honor uakers are not allowed to lie or keep secrets BUT the success of the Underground Railroad relies on such prevarication How does thy uilt when the very material used to uilt comes off the backs of slaves? Her mother in law Judith an elder in the uaker community Sour faced and judgy Donovan the slave catcher Her loins and allEarnest details about uilting millinery and social customs add interest to the narrative as does Mrs Reed a Conductor of the Underground Railroad Most of the other characters are a bit wooden and fall flat This could have been a better book but for lack of development and oversimplification I still enjoyed it Simply put this is one of the BEST historical novels I have ever readThe plot After being jilted by her fiance in England uaker woman Honor Bright decides to accompany her sister Grace to America and help Grace adjust to her upcoming marriage and impending life as a pioneer woman But when tragedy befalls them Honor finds herself alone in a strange country dependent on the kindness of strangers and trying to learn the customs of 1850s Ohio still a rough and wild place Further she has much to learn about the raw bitter divisive nature of the issue of slavery and how very little is as black and white as we wish it could beChevalier is at this point a veteran writer of historical fiction I've enjoyed her novels in the past but The Last Runaway sets a new even higher standard for her work While Chevalier is skilled at forming compelling conflicted primary and secondary characters where she truly excels in this novel is her setting and framework I moved away from the Midwest several years ago but she evokes the landscape the climate the burgeoning history and legacy so exuisitely I had to put the book down at one point and have a good homesick cryI fear it will be a long time before I encounter the likes of this book again A uaker girl from England landed up in Faithwell Ohio 1850 right in the middle of the Underground Railroad's path Heartsick and homesick Honor Haymaker struggled to wrap her mind around the slavery laws of America and the way it was applied in the northern states Milking cows sewing uilts making hay bottling the bounty of summer for the harsh uncompromising winters tapping maple trees for syrup making cheese obeying her mother in law and being a good wife drained her from everything she ever believed in or aspired to Her only true friends were Belle Mill the milliner and Mrs Elsie Reed a former slave in Wellington but their friendship were strictly forbidden by her husband's family Belle was also the sister of Donovan Mill the slave hunter who made it his business to uphold the laws The relentless clattering of his horse's hooves one of the hooves had a distinctive thud as a result of a thick shoe were heard anytime anywhere even in the small radical town of Oberlin Donovan did not hesitate to paw through his sister's possessions as well to get behind possible stationmasters's actions of the Underground Railroad Just as he did with Honor's trunk a few months earlier when Honor was on Thomas's wagon on her way from Hudson to Wellington after arriving in AmericaBelle gifted her a gray bonnet with a yellow trimming It became the first act of rebellion against a community which was slowly choking the last breath from Honor Haymaker's body From there the road to freedom of choice became tougher than the survival of the snares in the woods that caught run away slaves on their journey to the Canadian border MY COMMENTSTo start of with this story is about people on the move Of people running away from lives they could not face Honor Bright became Honor Haymaker with the plot of the story clearly established in the protagonist's names From then on it became a heartfelt and gripping adventure through the history of slavery and the settlement of the immigrants with the hardships surrounding the lives of all the people on the run Their journeys took them either from east to west or south to north over the vast territories of America And there where their roads crossed this story took shapeA beautiful compassionate read I really enjoyed this book An excellent read This novel was enjoyable enough However reading it gives one a sensation of floating atop the story nothing pulls a person in or attaches itself to the reader's emotions The story is just too light The first hundred pages are largely given over to uilting patterns and sewing techniues which is fine enough if one has a taste for such thorough narrations of domestiue intricacies; but a reader choosing this book based on the cover description would be disappointed It leaves one to believe that it is centred around the Underground Railroad leaves one to expect a drama of true trials and interpersonal struggles as no tale concerning such a matter could be or was otherwise especially to the people immediately concerned However excluding the last scene the collection of scarce small events involving black runaways throughout this novel most definately purposes as a side story and futher each event in and of itself also carries a feeling of being 'small' The majority of text is dedicated to uilting as already mentioned and the dynamics of uaker communities the back description should reflect this Although the main character Honor Bright does go through a personal struggle excited by her and her new family's differing views including that of dealing with runaways but certainly not the most prominent dissimilitude the reader once again feels left floating atop never really seeing into the character The reader never really knows Honor Bright and some times she surprisingly demostrates understanding then one would expect from her hollow bland character where did this come from?The afforementioned aside this book is a nice light read that can remove one from the present without demanding emotional or intellectual strain of any kindThe scenic descriptions of this novel are on par Chevalier can effectively paint a descriptive picture in few words; she knows just what can be left out what the reader can fill in himself and does not drag the book down by counting off the leaves on trees Prehaps my rating would be higher if the cover description properly described the novel it is a very airy book about a uaker's life in America at the time of slavery though slavery is far from its focal point and do not forget to mention the uilting uilting uilting I was disappointed because I was mislead; I was expecting Underground Railroad and instead got uilting uaker I did not like this as much as I thought I would I like Chevalier I like Historical Fiction and I adore books of this period That's why the book gets a three star rating from me but it leans towards the lower end of the 3 The book's weakness to me is the wishy washy main character Honor Bright She drifts along with events believes in Silence so much that she doesn't seem to have any thoughts and above all she didn't make me believe that she was sincere Honor Bright is an English uaker who comes to America to get away from a jilting ostensibly to help her sister settle into her new home Her sister succumbs to a yellow fever sickness before she can reach Ohio Honor unable to go back to England but nitpicking away with America because among other things it is not neat and ordered and there are trees everywhere decides to continue on to Ohio where she meets a number of interesting characters all of them somehow connected with fugitive slaves She continues drifting without purpose until she decides that the corn is ready please don't tell me this used to happen and if it did is this where the word corny originate from? and gets married to the second man that happens along The first is there to provide some conflict Then she becomes involved in a totally floaty fashion in the Underground Railroad Honor is a wispy creature to build a story on Her main trait is that she's silent and that she's an expert uiltmaker This gets us through the first hundred pages She whines incessantly about where she is everything is so transient everyone wants to move away they have wood houses and not solid stone like in England all the while forgetting that and people were leaving England to make a life in the new world including herself She doesn't make any effort to be involved in the Community she believes in so much so it becomes really hard for us to empathize with her when she says she's friendless She becomes involved in the Underground Railroad true but as I read it it's used as a backdrop to this wallflower's story and that's just not interesting She uses her people's aversion to help fugitive slaves to make a martyr of herself They have a very compelling reason for the aversion in spite of which they give her a great deal of latitude Sure they could use some spine and their actions are deplorable and all too common But what bothered me with the book is that the girl who will go silent for months on her family in some weird sort of judgment for refusing to help a runaway can see the Light in a merciless slave catcher denounced even by his own sister What kind of person would do that? Other than a horny one having the hots for the slave catcher I mean She doesn't actually have the guts to admit that eitherBut I do give Chevalier points for a bunch of other things As always the descriptions of the period and of the place are great to read She evokes the transience of the place well There are some memorable characters Belle Mills Donovan Judith Haymaker Mrs Reed In fact any one not named Honor Bright happen to have a personality I would have loved to read a book from Belle's perspective or Mrs Reed's Infinitely interesting characters The scenes with the fugitives are affecting and I kept wishing that the book had of that I even liked the almost endless commentary on uaker uilting it was well researched and definitely preferable to the main character's whining I was looking forward to the book very much and while it was well written in the historical point of view it was a very unsatisfying read I wish books didn't take something important and trivialize it to a marginality but insist that it is very important We can see it's not 3 stars for nostalgia I received a copy via NetGalley for review Honor Bright follows her sister Grace over to America in 1850 She crosses the sea in the Adventurer and makes her slow way to Faithwell Ohio She meets despair and tragedy along the way and uickly finds herself in an uncomfortable situation almost as uickly as she arrives Honor is a uaker and lives within her community of Friends She finds that Faithwell is a stop for runaway slaves from the South on their North Star path to Oberlin and onto Canada I enjoyed each chapter ended with a letter either from or to Honor I found myself looking forward to these pieces of correspondence between her old life and new one I also enjoyed reading about uilting and learning the differences in the patterns techniue and colors The things that fell a little flat for me was the runaway storyline this felt a little too light given the situation I'm not sure helping runaways in Ohio would've been uite as easy as it was for Honor These plot points didn't feel gritty enough and I found myself uestioning the authenticity of the narrative Belle Mills was by far my favorite character the local milliner whose brother is the slave catcher in the area Belle is a no nonsense hat maker with a personality this book sorely needed Overall I enjoyed this book but it was a lighter historical version of this time period than I would've liked The stunning new novel from the bestselling author of Girl with a Pearl Earring Honor Bright is a sheltered uaker who has rarely ventured out of 1850s Dorset when she impulsively emigrates to America Opposed to the slavery that defines and divides the country she finds her principles tested to the limit when a runaway slave appears at the farm of her new family In this tough unsentimental place where whisky bottles sit alongside uilts Honor befriends two spirited women who will teach her how to turn ideas into actions I am trying to figure out today what made this book so unputdownable last night I was up reading it until I finished at 3am and the only thing I can come up with is the character of Honor Bright She is such a sympathetic character and I wanted to know what happened to herThe Last Runaway is the story of Honor Bright a young uaker woman who leaves England to escape an unpleasant past that is not of her own doing and her attempt to fit into the American society in a small town in Ohio There are a cast of interesting characters in Donovan and Belle Jack Haymaker Adam and Abigail and and decisions that need to be made by Honor that foreshadow a deeper meaning behind her nameThere were familiar aspects to this novel anyone who has read Uncle Tom's Cabin will recognize similarities between the stories but this is dealing with the other side what happens to those who disobey the Fugitive Slave Act It's a life filled with secrets and lies in the midst of a people who refuse to lieSo this ended up being an unputdownable book for me It moved uickly had heart and characters that tugged at my heartstrings and it was a story that was above and beyond interesting There were little bits of flavor throughout it as well that helped with the story making it personable The difference between English uilting and American recipes culture and This is a great book for fans of historical fiction who are interested in immigration the underground railroad uakers and the early pioneer midwest Inspiring and realistic A heart warming tale of one woman's unexpected journey to ferry runaway slaves along the Underground Railroad and saving her soul and self in the process After being spurned by her fiancé in 1850s England uaker Honor Bright accompanies her sister Grace to Ohio where Grace is to be married Soon Honor must fend for herself Feeling unwelcomed by her sister’s fiance and his sister in law Honor marries a local uaker man and moves to his family's farm where she also feels unwanted Against their wishes Honor becomes involved in assisting runaway slaves This book was just good enough to keep me reading but Honor was so judgmental and priggish that I found myself siding with the characters who disliked her which was almost all of them including the dog Yet I don’t think the author realized how fundamentally annoying Honor was In general the writing plot and characters most of whom were pretty one dimensional felt like a mediocre YA book The story freuently focuses on Honor’s love of uilting You have probably guessed that she is a better uilter than anyone else and is unfairly resented for that Aside from references to Grandmother’s Flower Garden uilts which would have instead been called honeycomb or mosaic uilts in that era being a know it all is contagious the uilting references seemed to be accurate There were interesting parts to this book but it didn’t uite come together

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About the Author: Tracy Chevalier

Born19 October 1962 in Washington DC Youngest of 3 children Father was a photographer for The Washington PostChildhoodNerdy Spent a lot of time lying on my bed reading Favorite authors back then Laura Ingalls Wilder Madeleine L’Engle Zilpha Keatley Snyder Joan Aiken Susan Cooper Lloyd Alexander Book I would have taken to a desert island Anne of Green Gables by LM MontgomeryEduca